Kentucky flood death toll to rise as more rain forecast

Trapped homeowners swam to safety and others were rescued by boat as a record-breaking flash flood killed at least 16 people in eastern Kentucky and flooded entire cities, sparking a frantic search for survivors in some of America’s poorest communities.

Heavy rain continued to hit the region on Friday, and authorities warned that the death toll was likely to rise sharply.

Some waterways are not expected to peak until Saturday.

This is the latest in a string of catastrophic floods that hit parts of the US this summer, including St. Louis earlier this week and again on Friday.


Heavy rains cause flash floods and landslides (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Scientists warn that climate change is making extreme weather more frequent.

The water flowed down the hillsides, into the valleys and depressions of the Appalachians, where it filled streams and streams that flowed through small towns.

The flood swept through homes and businesses, smashed cars and smashed debris from bridges. Landslides threw some people onto steep slopes.

Rescue teams, backed by the National Guard, used helicopters and boats to search for the missing, but some areas were still inaccessible.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the death toll “is going to get much higher.”

Rachel Patton said the floodwaters filled her home so quickly that her mother, who is on oxygen, had to be evacuated through a door that floated on the water. Her voice cracked as she described their harrowing escape.

“We had to swim out and it was cold. It was over my head, so it was scary,” she told WCHS TV.

Mr. Beshear told The Associated Press that children were among the victims and that the death toll could more than double as rescue teams scour the affected areas.

“Hundreds of families have lost everything,” Mr. Beshir said. “And a lot of those families didn’t have much to begin with. And so it hurts even more. But we will be with them.”


Storms hit central Appalachians. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

At least 33,000 utility customers were left without power, and the flooding has spread to western and southern West Virginia, a region where poverty is endemic.

The Appalachian flooding came two days after record rains around St. Louis fell more than 12 inches in some areas and killed at least two people.

Last month, heavy rain that fell on mountain snow in Yellowstone National Park caused historic flooding and the evacuation of more than 10,000 people and devastated parts of Montana.

In both cases, the amount of rain and flooding far exceeded forecasts.

Rescue crews in Kentucky completed about 50 air rescues and hundreds of water rescues on Thursday, Mr. Beshear said, and more people still need help.


House and buildings were flooded (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

According to Mr. Beshir, more than 290 people have found shelter.

He sent National Guard soldiers to the hardest hit areas.

President Joe Biden called to express his support for a sustained recovery effort, Mr Beshear said, predicting a full recovery would take more than a year.

The National Weather Service said another storm front that exacerbated the suffering of St. Louis flood victims on Friday could bring more thunderstorms to the Appalachians, where flash floods continue to be possible across the region.